photo taken by Wendy VonSosen Photography
This photo (from the awesome Wendy VonSosen) reminds me of my parenting skills... they sometimes work beautifully and sometimes are completely out of control and yield painful or exhausting results.
I spent last week potty training my daughter. It was actually a beautiful experience filled with hugs and "I love yous" and not too many accidents. I enthusiastically cheered my daughter on all day long. When accidents happened I reminded her that "it's ok, accidents happen, you're just learning" and we went on with the day.
At the end of each day of holding it together and being positive with my daughter all day I totally cracked when my husband got home and was cranky and bossy and annoyed... (which was not warranted since he was a sweetheart and made me hot fudge, did dishes, and helped me pick up the house each day).
So of course I berated myself in my head for being so mean, bossy, annoying, etc.
It reminded me of this article I read from the Hands Free Mama.
Then again on Friday my 3-year-old daughter had a playdate with a little friend. Things were going wonderfully until the girls wanted to play in different spots and my daughter lost it. She fell apart and couldn't pull herself back together for the rest of the playdate. She told me to go away, that she hated me, and that she wanted to be left alone... among other things. She yelled again and again and she was mean to her friend.
I've heard mean words from her before and knew that she was feeling hurt and sad, so didn't mean them... but after the playdate ended I just started crying.
I got annoyed at myself for responding the wrong way to my daughter's behavior-- I wasn't patient enough... I was too patient and should've been more strict... I should've given her a time out for yelling at me... I should've been more empathetic since she was feeling so hurt, etc. Then I told myself it was my own fault for setting her up when I knew she had a hard time with large groups and had social anxiety.
Then I visualized the next 15 years of emotions in our house and just felt like my parenting abilities were spiraling downhill...
As I started crying my 3-year-old came over and grabbed my face gently and said, "Why are you crying mom?"
I said was "mommy's feeling sad" and "it made me feel sad when you yelled at me and when you weren't kind to your friend."
My little one said "I'm sorry" (completely unprompted) and then just sat down by me and gave me the biggest hug for a long time... and I cried even more.
After we hugged and I calmed down, I grabbed myself a piece of chocolate (my sanity) and I thought about the week and our afternoon together and how I treat myself.
I realized that I need to give myself a break.
I need to stop blaming myself for every thing that happens with my kids. I need to recognize that my kids have their own agency and I can teach them, and support them, but ultimately they get to choose their own behaviors... just like I do.
I want to choose to be more kind... to me.
I also want to choose to be more kind to my husband and my kids.
Happiness is a conscious choice. Being kind is also a choice. It is much harder to be happy and kind sometimes as a parent... but so much more rewarding.
Here are a few ways that I want to try and be kinder to myself...
1. Stop blaming, criticizing, and judging myself in my head. Look for the good instead.
2. Don't put myself down in front of other people either. Follow the old adage, "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" when talking about myself!
3. Expect less. I don't need to let my whole house go to shambles (which I do sometimes) but I also don't need to put crazy high expectations on myself either. I need to scrap my super long "to do" lists that just make me feel overwhelmed and annoyed at myself... and go with a simpler system. Pick three things I want to get done... do them... then pick three more.
4. Make time for self-care. Whether it is taking a shower, jogging in the the morning with my running buddy, or just making time to go to the bathroom... I need to make some time for me. I will feel better, happier, and more in control.
5. Set my priorities and make those things happen first. Amazing things happen in my life when I remember to do this. For me priorities are things like saying my prayers, reading scriptures, making time for cuddles and reading with my kids, and serving others... especially my friends & family.
Do you need to give yourself a break too? How can you be kinder to yourself?
Come join us this month as we try to be kinder to ourselves and others during our 100 acts of kindness challenge. You can sign up for the kindness challenge emails here.